By John Helsley
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Just last week, Reger Dowell talked excitedly about OSU’s game against SMU (coming up Wednesday night atAmericanAirlinesCenter), which offered a return home for theDallasarea product. Dowell was a high school standout at nearbyDuncanvilleand relished the chance to play before family and friends.
Presumably, Dowell is already home, having left the Cowboys program as the latest defector from the recruiting class of 2009.
Dowell’s departure appears curious on the surface, as his profile as the point guard on the team had seemingly been enhanced with Fred Gulley’s exit a week earlier.
Except Dowell’s rise in status was apparently brief.
The Cowboys, struggling to find an offensive identity – with point guard play a considerable factor in the ongoing struggles – seem ready to turn back to Keiton Page at the point.
Page, who played there some a year ago, offers the most stability and leadership, although his perimeter offense has typically suffered when he’s running the point. But then, Page’s offense was already suffering in a stagnant system that made it a challenge for him to even shake free for shots.
And with the season a teetering disappointment at 6-5, Cowboys coach Travis Ford seemingly has seen enough, and will place the offense in the hands of the one player he trusts the most: Page.
Freshman Cezar Guerrero, the point guard of the future, remains in place. His role should increase, either in sharing the position – allowing Page to still play predominantly at the 2 – or as a backup receiving significant minutes.
So, what to make of Gulley and Dowell leaving two weeks apart?
The answer is probably complex.
This we know: Ford is hard on point guards, as a former point guard with high standards himself. Gulley’s former Twitter photo was a shot of him standing there, taking a serious tail-chewing from Ford on the sideline.
This we also know: since Byron Eaton’s senior season, the Cowboys have gotten little from the point, rolling through several players at the position. Few assists. Few points. Fewer and fewer wins.
This season was no different, with Gulley, Dowell and Guerrero all failing to seize opportunity. It all comes down to playing the way Ford wants them to play, which is unselfishly. It’s his way or…
And that brings us back to the 2009 recruiting class, Ford’s first at OSU. From that group, all three point guards – Gulley, Dowell and Ray Penn – have all bolted from an overall group of defectors that stands at a staggering six players, seven if you count Karron Johnson, who signed but never made it toStillwater.
Jarred Shaw, Roger Franklin and Torin Walker have also moved on, making for the washout of an entire recruiting class.
What to make of that?
Well, in hindsight, a class that was originally highly ranked has been revealed as something far less. As players, no one from that list will be missed with great regret.
Still, that many players bailing out doesn’t look good. And some of them could have been solid role players, although they’d first have to accept such a role. Guys today are less inclined to think of themselves as anything less than stars.
Going forward, Ford would be wise to get Guerrero as much time at the point as possible, as he’s clearly the guy going forward.
Phil Forte, signed in November, is more of a shooter, although he could help at the point. And there’s no one else coming who projects as a point guard, although the Cowboys will surely be on the search again with scholarships opened up.
In the meantime, the Cowboys will have a different look going forward this season. And, considering what we’ve seen, that may not be all bad.